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Volume 68, Issue 140, Thursday, April 24, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

Warren's is classy, relaxed martini bar

liquid diet

Mario Gudmundsson

Once youive managed to find a rare parking spot and push your way through the snooty urban crowd on the sidewalks, you will find one of Houstonis most timeless bars, Warrenis Inn, facing the little park at downtownis historic Market Square.

Warren's Inn, one of Houstonis most timeless bars, faces the little park at downtown's historic Market Square.

Dixie Ann Dalton/The Daily Cougar

Although Warrenis opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, the bar doesnit have a happy hour. There are never any drink specials either, but the regular crowd crams in for its warm, welcoming service and famous martinis, which sell for anywhere between $5 to $8, depending on what from the broad selection of liquor goes into it.

"The friendly owner Caroline keeps me coming back to Warrenis night after night," said senior computer information systems major Shevon Patel.

Mixed drinks like a Sapphire gin and tonic run about $4.50. The few beers on tap include Bud Light and Ziegen Bock, and are served in frozen mugs for a reasonable $2.50. 

Your drinks arrive on quirky coasters, squishy little squares of red carpet that look kind of like Astroturf.

"We donit have any pool tables or games, or anything fun to do like that, but I see college students in here often, and they like to order martinis and play Frank Sinatra on the jukebox," said Faye Thomas, who has been years.

Warrenis has been in the same location for 14 years, after moving from a spot just across the street. When the bar changed locations, the owners brought the original fixtures along with them. 

The decor inside this 1874 building is singular and decadently decaying. Tall ceilings accommodate ornate floor-to-ceiling gilt mirrors, which reflect the vintage chandeliers hanging from old wooden beams.

The jukebox is full of oldies and classic favorites. Plenty of spacious tables fill the large room, which is bordered on one side by a raised seating area dominated by what can only be described as a random indoor gazebo.

Itis really only half a gazebo, with three tiny tables inside and a mirrored wall festooned with Christmas lights and a stained-glass skylight. This is the best seat in the room, from which you can observe the patrons, the bar and the jukebox.

The bar is in the back of the room, ringed by casually dressed patrons who seem to never leave their bar stools. 

One of the regulars, UH finance alumnus Rahul Bakshi, said, "It always feels like home when you come in. You don't have to be anyone but yourself here. This is really the best spot Downtown to enjoy yourself."

With a New Orleans-style wrought-iron balcony and neon lettering on the front of the pastel-colored, vintage building, it looks like a festive place, but more than anything the atmosphere is relaxed and homey. 

International business senior Kumar Mukherjee said, "Itis a tranquil place. Warren's has the perfect strategy and atmosphere to keep clients coming back."

And they do. Warrenis was named one of Esquireis top 100 bars in the nation and has quietly withstood the test of time while other Downtown hot spots burn brightly and then quickly fade away. 

Warrenis Inn

307 Travis St.

The verdict: Having a drink at Warrenis Inn makes you feel like a part of the history at Market Square.

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